Larry Elder: Hamas-Israel War: How Do You Defeat a Culture of Hate?

The perspectives and thoughts expressed in this op-ed are the exclusive purview of the author.

It was 1973 in Jerusalem. I was 21 years old walking through the Arab section of the Old City. I was sporting a massive afro and wearing an army jacket with the name “Elder” above the pocket, a gift from my little brother who was serving.

I heard footsteps, so I stopped, turned around and saw about 10 smiling kids following me. I kept walking until I heard louder footsteps. I stopped, turned around and saw maybe 20 kids following me. I kept walking until I heard even more footsteps. Now there were 50 kids. So, I stopped, turned around and smiled, and they surrounded me. I then conducted a sort of press conference. One kid spoke pretty fluent English.

“Do you know Muhammad Ali?” I was asked.

“Personally?” I said. “No.”

About a third of the kids left.

“Do you know Angela Davis?” I was asked next.

“Personally? No.”

Another third left.

“Do you know karate?” I was then asked.

“No.”

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The rest of the kids left. I was not asked about Martin Luther King. I was not asked about George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. I was not asked about the U.S. Constitution or the U.S. Civil War.

Why was I asked about Muhammad Ali? It was not just that the heavyweight champion was arguably the most famous person in the world. It was that this most famous person in the world converted to Islam and rejected Christianity. Therefore, to these kids, he was a superhero. As for Angela Davis, she is an American communist who, in a widely publicized trial, was tried and acquitted of murder and kidnapping charges in connection to an assault on a courthouse in California. And on walls all over the city there were posters of American martial arts movies. This explained the question about karate.

I often think about this, but even more so after Oct. 7, when Hamas murdered over 1,000 Israelis, many raped and their bodies mutilated. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “defeat Hamas.”

But how do you defeat an ideology? The hatred of Israel and of Jews is instilled in the Palestinians from birth. Antisemitism is taught in schools, in mosques, in music, in television shows, in the news, in movies and, of course, in the speeches of political leaders.

Israel no longer “occupies” Gaza, having left in 2005. Gaza held elections, and Hamas has been in charge. As to who is currently in charge of Gaza, this is from the BBC:

“Ismail Haniyeh is widely considered Hamas’s overall leader. A prominent member of the movement in the late 1980s, Israel imprisoned Haniyeh for three years in 1989 as it cracked down on the first Palestinian uprising.

“He was then exiled in 1992 to a no-man’s-land between Israel and Lebanon, along with a number of Hamas leaders. After a year in exile, he returned to Gaza. In 1997 he was appointed head of the office of Hamas’s spiritual leader, strengthening his position.

“Haniyeh was appointed Palestinian prime minister in 2006 by President Mahmoud Abbas after Hamas won the most seats in national elections, but was dismissed a year later after the group ousted Mr. Abbas’ Fatah party from the Gaza Strip in a week of deadly violence. …

“He was elected head of Hamas’s political bureau in 2017. In 2018, the US Department of State designated Haniyeh a terrorist. He has lived in Qatar for the past several years.”

How do Palestinians feel about Oct. 7? According to a December 2023 article in Reuters: “Almost three in four Palestinians believe the October 7 attack was correct, and the ensuing Gaza war has lifted support for the Islamist group both there and in the West Bank, a survey from a respected Palestinian polling institute found. … Seventy-two percent of respondents said they believed the Hamas decision to launch the cross-border rampage in southern Israel was ‘correct’ given its outcome so far, while 22% said it was ‘incorrect.’ The remainder were undecided or gave no answer.”

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Netanyahu claims that half of the Hamas fighters have been killed or wounded out of a pre-Oct. 7 force of 30,000. But how do you kill or wound a deeply embedded culture of hate?

Larry Elder is a bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2024 LAURENCE A. ELDER

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM


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